The Sacramento Kings came out smoking hot, but couldn’t sustain the momentum as Al Horford scored 27 points and Paul Millsap added 25 and the Atlanta Hawks handed the Kings their third straight loss, 105-100, Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena.
The Kings haven’t won since a 90-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets on opening night and a big fourth-quarter comeback fell short on Tuesday.
Isaiah Thomas sparked the comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 of his team-high 26 points in the period. But with Sacramento trailing 103-100 in the final seconds, Thomas missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer and the Hawks held on to improve to 2-2 on the young season.
DeMarcus Cousins struggled mightily against Horford and Millsap and was held to just 11 points and six rebounds on 5-of-12 shooting. Making matters worse for the team’s franchise player, who just signed a lucrative contract extension, coach Michael Malone left Cousins on the bench as the Kings made their late push.
Rookie Ben McLemore continued his solid play, scoring 15 points in 23 minutes off the bench and also adding six rebounds. McLemore was 3-for-7 from deep. Marcus Thornton also scored 15 points and John Salmons added 13.
Horford and Millsap each recorded double-doubles. Horford finished with 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting and had 10 boards, three steals and two blocks. Millsap logged 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jeff Teague added 18 points and 10 assists for Atlanta.
The middle quarters told the tale for Sacramento. The Kings led 32-25 after one period, but were outscored 57-33 in the second and third quarters and entered the fourth down by 17 at 82-65.
Sacramento opens a back-to-back, home-and-home with the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at the Rose Garden in Portland, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. The teams renew acquaintances Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena at 7 p.m., the first of five straight home games for the Kings, who are now 1-3.